March 10, 2010

Thin Places - Book Review

I loved reading Thin Places, An Evangelical Journey into Celtic Christianity, written by Tracy Balzer. Several of the subjects covered in this book are: Prayer, pilgrimage, silence and solitude. One of the chapters dealt with the benefits of confession to another being, something the Protestant tradition might recoil at....after discussing the benefits of confession I love this quote by Sherry Bunge Mortenson about "the power of the secret" "If our compulsions, our addictions, our warped conceptions are not brought out into the open, she urged we are not able to receive healing we so desperately need. Denial is a dangerous thing and is contrary to the truth, integrity, and freedom that is to mark the Christian life. Hiding behind an illusion of wholeness will not make the disease in a soul go away. Sherry implored us all to "break the secret" so that healing can begin."

James 5:16 says "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

I love the chapter on Silence and Solitude. The author quotes Henri Nouwen several times, a memorable quote that has changed me in many ways Henri writes in The Way of The Heart, "Solitude is the furnace of transformation."

and in that same subject from page 126,

"Ironically, it is through solitude, through intentional times being alone with God only-that we are transformed into people who demonstrate compassion to others...Their time spent in solitude with God resulted in a greater capacity for physical hospitality and spiritual friendship."

I don't know about you but I feel like our world is getting noisier and noisier, our smart phones have put us in places that we NEVER have to follow the words from scripture, "Be still and know I am God." I find that books like this one call me back to quiet, solitude, and prayer, and remind me of the importance of it. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read on history and the places we can intentionally grow closer to the Lord.

Once you start a routine of making quiet places for you and God to have quality time together you will not ever want to be without it. Being in solitude does not come easy or naturally to most of us, but it is life changing in every way. Satan wants to keep us from being quiet or still with God, you know the saying, if the devil can't make you bad he will make you busy.

I am at a place in my life that, if allowed, I could be over run with busyness, but I take great steps to not allow my life to run me, but to intentionally allow open spaces of time for me and God and for me and my family. I protect those times. If the world is allowed to speak into our lives about the value of being busy it would say the busier you are the more successful you are, the more popular you are, the more valuable you are. I hope that we pray for God to intervene in our hearts and show us that those are all lies that do not come from Him.

We do not have to be a slave to our phones, we don't have to answer a phone and give it precedence over the person in front of us, or distract us from our personal time with God. Cell/Smart phones have a great value but they can be used towards our own detriment.

I don't want to go through life like a mouse on a wheel. I want to live intentionally and making choices that lead me in the direction I want to go. For me the direction I have chosen is towards the Lord, it is important to be aware that God often times shows Himself, or discloses Himself in the whisper and if we don't address the "noise" around us then we could miss Him if we don't value that time of quiet. (You can find a cool story about the whisper here, 1 Kings 19:1-13)